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A Professional Writers Process...
by taramonk (taramonk)
at July 13th, 2006 (08:16 pm)
current location: Computer Desk
Soundtrack: Everlong -- Foo Fighters

...which leads to a writing ramble:

Found this short interview with Nora Roberts on my Borders newsletter, and this Q/A caught my attention:

Q: I wanted to ask you about your writing process, because your writing comes across as fluid and effortless, and it seems as though you're "channeling the muse." Is this really the case? What is your writing and revision process like?

NR: Well, first: There ain't no muse. If you sit around and wait to channel the muse, you can sit around and wait a long time. It's not effortless. If only. Well, if it was, then everyone would do it, and where would we be then? So I work really hard to make it as fluid as possible, as readable and entertaining as possible.

I'll vomit out the first draft: bare-bones, get-the-story-down. I don't edit and fiddle as I go, because I don't know what's going to happen next. Once I get the discovery draft down, then I'll go back to page one, chapter one, and then I start worrying about how it sounds, where I've made mistakes, where I've gone right, what else I have to add, where's the texture, where's the emotion. I start fixing. And then, after I've done that all the way through again, I'll go back one more time, and that's when I'm really going to worry about the language. And the rhythm, and making sure that I haven't made a mistake, that I've tied up all the loose ends reasonably. It doesn't necessarily mean everything ties up for every reader, because some want it one way and some want it another, and you just have to be true to the story, so it's all plausible at the end of the day.


Do any of you follow a similar writing process? This way makes sense to me, and I think I may try it and see where it leads. I was also surprised by the lack of mention of an outline. Of course, when you've written a million books, who needs an outline anymore?

Ms. Roberts also mentions she writes popular fiction because that's what she likes to read. Of course, she's more often labeled as a romance writer. I usually enjoy her books, though there have been a few that I couldn't even finish. (Well, I finished by skipping to the end, thus avoiding all the crap and confirming the predictable happy-ever-after.)  

Which got me thinking about what I like to read. And, well -- I like to read romance novels. And I admit it. On my recent vacation, I was talking to someone I had just met, and when she asked me what I like to read, I replied that I mostly read fluffy stuff that doesn't require too much brain work. She thought I meant chick-lit, and was looking down her nose. When I mentioned I read a Nora Roberts on the plane -- and liked it -- she was horrified!

Are romance novels a guilty pleasure, or do you freely admit to being a fan? Or, do you think they're crap? And do I have to write a romance novel, 'cuz that's what I read? I suck at the love stuff.

Any thoughts on writing processes, or romance novels?

Comments

Posted by: N-to-tha-Kizzle (foodsthatcan)
Posted at: July 14th, 2006 04:16 am (UTC)

I am becoming a bigger and bigger believer in outlining. I find it really difficult to write if I don't know where I'm going. Waiting for bursts of inspiration is not an efficient way to work. When you have a detailed outline to work from, the words flow because you've already worked out in advance most of the issues that would normally frustrate or stop you. Prose is something that can be fine-tuned, but if the framework of the story isn't plotted out in advance, it's very easy to get sidetracked and discouraged.

As for romance novels, I haven't read a one in ages. The hero and heroine never act the way I would write them, or I wonder why they are attracted to each other in the first place.

Posted by: taramonk (taramonk)
Posted at: July 14th, 2006 05:12 am (UTC)
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I often have problems with the hero/heroine. It's very rare that I like both of them at the same time. Alot of romance novels also use my biggest story pet peeve: The Misunderstanding Which Leads to Needless Angst.

But -- when you get a good one, it is such a fun read. I stick to writers I know, which has limited by choices drastically. When I'm looking for a new writer, I peruse the 'net, looking for recs.

I have tried the outlining thing, and I get impatient. Which pretty much defines my writing endeavors. I get impatient with the outline, cuz I want to get to the story. I get impatient while writing the story, cuz I already know how it ends, and it seems to take forever to get there. And, then I get distracted.

Perhaps I should start with a less lofty, yet important goal: An outline. Get it down, get it done, refine it, and then see what happens next.

Cuz, I gotta say, waiting for those bursts of inspiration isn't working.

Posted by: N-to-tha-Kizzle (foodsthatcan)
Posted at: July 14th, 2006 06:04 am (UTC)

Sometimes my hate for the hero or heroine begins with their name. Shallow but true! I'm picky about dialogue, too. If it's too trendy, I'm turned off, but some authors have no ear for how contemporary dialogue should sound, either.

Definitely try the outlining thing! I think that once you get into it and really force yourself to start hashing out your story, you'll feel more creative because you'll start seeing all these opportunities for cool moments and possibilities will start opening up. Feel free to drop me an email if you want a second set of eyes for your ideas.

I should add a caveat: if you're just working on a quick-and-dirty one-shot that's maybe one or two scenes long, an outline probably isn't necessary. But anything longer than that, and you'll probably find one useful.

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